Buy now! - Learn more about Abaarso's extraordinary story in Abaarso Founder, Jonathan Starr's, new book "It Takes A School"

Buy Now - "It Takes A School"

Sign Up For The Newsletter

Get updates on school activities and other Abaarso news.

Our Team

Abaarso’s success would not be possible without the support of a diverse and talented group of faculty and board members, both in Somaliland and the U.S., who are all incredibly dedicated to the success of the school and the future opportunities of its students.

Executive Staff
Somaliland Board of Directors

Mr. Ahmed Jambir Suldan, Board Chair
Former Interior Minister, Somaliland Ministry of the Interior

Mr. Saeed Ahmed Mohamoud, Board Vice Chair
Independent Consultant

Mr. James Linville, Board Secretary
Headmaster, Abaarso School of Science and Technology

Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim Awale
Chairman, Candlelight for Environment, Education, and Health

Mr. Abdi Hassan Duale
Executive Officer, National Professions Commission

Mr. Abdulkader Hashi Elmi
CEO, Maansoor Hotel

Mr. Omer Jama Farah
Manager, Taakulo Somaliland Community

Ms. Amal Ahmed Misan
Presidential Advisor on Women’s Affairs, Somaliland Presidential Office

Sh Mohamed Mohamoud, Religious Scholar

Dr. Jinaw Mohamed Qaalib
Medical Doctor and Lecturer, Global Polyclinic, University of Hargeisa, and Frantz Fanon University

U.S. Advisory Board Members

Jonathan Starr
Founder and Headmaster Emeritus

Anand Desai
Board Chair

Mohammed Ali
Senior Vice President, Hartford Investment Management Company

Gaurav Bhandari
Managing Partner, Long Arc Capital

Andra Ehrenkranz
Independent Education/Marketing Professional

John Ehrenkranz
Chief Investment Officer, Ehrenkranz Partners LP

Mitch Golden
Portfolio Manager, Greenlight Masters

Mustafa A. Jama
Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Investment Management

Steve Kuhn
Co-founder, ASK Charitable Foundation

Adeel Qalbani
Managing Partner, Perry Creek Capital

Michael Pollack
Clinical Assistant Professor of Business & Society, NYU Stern School of Business

Bradley Francis
Portfolio Manager, Pharo Management LLC

Abaarso Staff
Robert Kaufman
Executive Director

Over the last two decades Rob has been a co-founder, director, and senior representative for humanitarian and education institutions. He
began his career as a grant funded researcher in West Africa, where he studied strategies for resolving conflicts across context. He has worked for Save the Children/US and the American Red Cross in field and headquarters positions on four continents, including as Regional Manager for the Balkans during the Kosovo Crisis. In 2001, Rob co-founded McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School in Framingham, Massachusetts and served as its executive director for seven years. This 300-student school was designed to emphasize social and emotional skill development along with academic achievement and included a peace studies curriculum based on his early research. Rob then co-founded unique after school program for a private equity backed educational venture. He was the first-ever Town Appointed Facilitator in Stow, MA where he led a process that overcame a 15+ year stalemate on education funding, culminating in a near unanimous town vote to finance new school construction. He later returned to the American Red Cross (ARC) to be director of planning and performance management for international services. He then joined the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to revitalize a program for pandemic preparedness, where he led the scaling of operations from one country to 94 countries in ten months. Rob opened a new office for the IFRC in Tel Aviv and later led the international relations team, where he directed strategy and outreach to diplomatic missions in Geneva, Switzerland. Rob played a key role in several organizational development and performance management initiatives at the IFRC, including the design and launch of a
secretariat-wide Business Performance Improvement Process. At the request of the Secretary General of IFRC, Rob re-launched the One Billion Coalition for Resilience (1BC), a global initiative to inspire one billion people to take action that builds resilience. Rob established an independent governing board of corporate leaders and heads of UN agencies, and led the formal re-launch of the 1BC at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2016 and the World Humanitarian Summit, of which the UN Secretary General highlighted as a key achievement of the event. Rob went on to serve as the Deputy Regional Director for IFRC in Africa for four years, leading teams that support advocacy, fundraising, planning, communications and operations for a portfolio of 30-plus humanitarian and development programs, an annual budget of nearly CHF 200 million and 500+ staff. Most recently, Rob was the IFRC Head of Delegation in the Philippines, mobilizing global support to severe weather storms, the pandemic and Super Typhoon Goni, before being appointed as the Executive Director of the Abaarso Network.

 

Nora Harless
CFO

Nora graduated with high honors from New York University (NYU) and is a MSc candidate in Global Management at the London School of Economics (LSE), focusing in foreign direct investment and non-profit finance. She first came to work for Abaarso in 2016, leaving briefly in 2017 to complete a post-graduate fellowship with Princeton University working in non-profit school development in Bolivia. She returned to Somaliland in 2018 to manage operations and finance as a founding team member at Barwaaqo University, Abaarso’s subsidiary sister school. In 2020, Nora joined the Abaarso Network staff as CFO, managing finances for the three school systems in the organization, overseeing risk management, partner investments and financial reporting.

Polly Dana
Head of School

Ms. Polly Dana comes to Abaarso from Hanoi, Vietnam where she served as the founding director of Delta Global School. Like Abaarso, Delta Global School is a secondary school with international funding providing local students with a high-quality international education in English and with a vision to develop the country’s future leaders. 

Polly is a lifelong educator from a family of dedicated educators with a career as a teacher and leader in a wide variety of day and boarding schools in the US and internationally. Early in her career, Polly instructed for one of the world’s premier experiential education programs, Outward Bound. There she developed a deep understanding of the importance of character and mindsets essential for learners’ success in school and beyond, as well as the importance of developing qualities needed for tomorrow’s leaders. 

Polly was the first Head of School at the Temple Grandin School (TGS) in Colorado, USA where she was responsible for all of the functions of a well-regarded and innovative American school. The student-centered program at TGS serves neurodiverse learners by focusing on growth from strengths and supporting the pursuit of passion. 

In addition to senior leadership, Polly has served as academic director, department chair, college & transitions counselor, and classroom science & mathematics teacher teaching the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB-DP), the U.S. College Board Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum, International Middle Years curriculum and the American Common Core curriculum. Polly has also worked at the university level as a teacher-trainer and as an educational consultant in diverse settings. While in Colorado, she has served as Education Coordinator and as a board member for Empowerment Through Education (ETE). ETE is a US-based NGO supporting education for women and girls of South Sudan in the U.S. and in Africa. ETE has a similar vision to that of the Abaarso Network and is planning to build schools in Torit, South Sudan. 

Polly was born in the U.S. and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology from Princeton University, a Master of Arts in Demography & Public Health from Dartmouth College, and a Certificate in International School Leadership from the International Principals’ Training Center. Polly’s husband John is a software developer and will live with her at Abaarso.

Laura Kaub
Director of Post-Abaarso Experiences
Laura Kaub has nearly 15 years of experience in helping young African leaders gain access to and succeed in tertiary education in the United States and around the world. She worked as an international admissions officer at Barnard College, a highly-selective liberal arts college located in the United States, and as the founding director of African Leadership Academy (ALA)’s university guidance program. Later, she served as the founding director of the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Program at ALA and as manager of the Yale Young African Scholars (YYAS) program, a free university access initiative that introduces African secondary school students to opportunities for admission and financial aid both on the continent and off. Ms. Kaub joined Nova Pioneer Schools for Innovators and Leaders as their inaugural director of post-school success where she oversaw personal and pre-university development of students across Nova Pioneer’s three secondary schools. Today, she works with the Abaarso Network as Director of Post-Abaarso Experiences, helping its students and alumni identify and access opportunities after they graduate.
 
Ms. Kaub is a member of the International Association of College Admissions Counselors and serves on that organization’s Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee. She sat on African Leadership Academy’s U.S. Advisory Council in 2017-18 and is a Past-Chair of the HALI Access Network, an association of schools and organizations working with high-achieving, low-income African students who wish to pursue tertiary education abroad. She still serves on HALI’s Executive Committee.
Saeed Mohamoud
Director of Facilities

Saeed graduated in 2015 from Abaarso School of Science and Technology. He then attended EARTH University in Costa Rica where he earned bachelors degree in Agricultural Science. As he completed his education, he came back to Somaliland and now he is the operations Manager at Abaarso School.

Jennifer Ayala
Director of Abaarso Prep | Faculty of Humanities

Born and raised in Southern California, Jennifer graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2012 with a BA in Philosophy. After graduation she volunteered in the Republic of Georgia for a year, teaching English in a rural mountain village. Jennifer then returned to California and worked in public libraries, developing children’s’ literacy initiatives and after-school family programs. After a couple years in the US Jennifer joined the Peace Corps, where she served in China from 2016-2018 as an English teacher in a university. In her free time she enjoys standup comedy, weight lifting, and hiking.

Adebola Akinmulewo
Director of Finance | Faculty of STEM

Adebola grew up in Delta State, Nigeria. She got her BSc and MSc degree in Microbiology. She’s passionate about social development and scientific research. She participated in the National Model United Nations in 2018 and got an outstanding delegation award. She’s passionate about learning and enjoys reading, traveling, and playing outdoor games. She’s excited to work here at Abaarso because it takes her close to fulfilling her dream of making an impact on the young generation through education.

Oyindamola Olajide
House Parent | Registrar

Oyinda is a Nigerian with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. She gained teaching experience while serving her country in the National Youth Corp. This act of service ignited her passion for teaching and pushed her to give back to society in a meaningful way. In her free time, she loves to read and listen to music.

Molli Goetz
College Counselor | Faculty of Humanities

Molli is originally from Connecticut and graduated from Harvard University, where she studied History and Arabic and wrote a senior thesis about the process of state-building in Oman. While at Harvard, she worked as a case manager and program director at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and as an English teacher in immigrant communities around Boston. She has also worked as an English teacher and office manager for an NGO in Athens, Greece that provides services to refugees living in Athens and has studied Arabic in Muscat, Oman and Amman, Jordan. She is very excited to be working with the students and staff at the Abaarso School.

Sean Howard
Director of Admissions | Faculty of Humanities

Sean is from New York and graduated from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in Legal Studies. He joined the Peace Corps and served in Northern Province, Zambia, working in the sector of rural education development. While in Zambia, Sean was a valued faculty member at Kafula Primary School, with an emphasis on literacy and student empowerment. Sean is a lifetime Eagle Scout who enjoys reading, traveling and golf.

Meredith Lostaglio
Director of Academic Enrichment | Faculty of STEM

Meredith graduated from Georgetown University with a BSFS in Science, Technology, and International Affairs in 2019, where she concentrated in Global Health and International Development. While attending university, Meredith co-founded a startup in the live events industry which became her full-time job after graduation.

Suubiye Mohamed Abdilaahi
Faculty of STEM

Mohamed graduated from United States International University in December 2018 with BSc in accounting and concentrating in finance. He spent the second year of his university studies in the Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. Right after graduation, he returned to Hargeisa and started his first job working for Coca-Cola Somaliland Beverages Industries in the marketing department. A few months before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, Mohamed was amongst the 150 men selected out of 1,000 educated young men from the Maroodi Jeex region area to attend a military service program that was held at Dararwayne military training camp. Mohamed was amongst the first batch that graduated from Abaarso School back in 2013 and he is excited to come back to teach Physics and take the Boys’ House Parent role.

Abdikarim Hussein
Faculty of STEM & Humanities

Abdikarim hails from Hargeisa, and he graduated from Swarthmore College in 2020. He holds a major in Economics and a minor in Philosophy. Before departing for the US, Abdikarim attended Abaarso School for three years. Abdikarim currently teaches math courses in both Upper School and Prep. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and binge-watching crime shows.

Riley Shoemaker
Faculty of Humanities

Riley is a Minneapolis, Minnesota native with a passion for education and lifelong curiosity about the world. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in History, he achieved his lifelong dream of serving in the Peace Corps. During his service, Riley taught English to Secondary School students in Malawi, otherwise known as “Warm Heart of Africa”. It was here he fell in love with teaching, a career path that has taken him all over the United States to Istanbul, Turkey, and now to Abaarso. He cannot wait to work with the gifted students of this school and foster their interest in the humanities.

Ian Meyer
Faculty of STEM

Ian is a graduate of Westminster College in Fulton Missouri. While at Westminster he double-majored in political science and international business and comparative politics. Ian enjoys all things outdoors, playing sports, and traveling.

Jamie Wills
Co-Director of Upper School | Faculty of Humanities

Having grown up in Scotland and the US, and graduated from the University of Edinburgh, Jamie served as a teacher, academic manager, and Director of Studies in Shanghai between 2002 and 2009. After taking a year to travel around the world, he returned to China to work as an independent academic consultant for students preparing to study overseas. Jamie also has a journalism qualification, having gained an NCTJ Diploma at the Press Association.

Kyle Young
Faculty of STEM

Kyle grew up in a small town in central New York where, with the encouragement and guidance of various teachers, he developed a love of math and science. Shortly after high school, Kyle moved to Washington state where he received a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Western Washington University. It was while working as a teaching assistant in the physics labs that Kyle discovered his love for teaching. Now out of college, Kyle wishes to be a positive role model for students and provide the same support and guidance that facilitated his own passions.


Outside of STEM-related fields, Kyle also enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, basketball, or soccer. In recent years, he’s also developed a love for poetry and creative writing.

Nicholas Layden
Faculty of Humanities

Nicholas was born in London, grew up in Edinburgh, and graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in History and International Relations in 2015. After leaving university he spent his time working in Scottish politics. In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys hiking, reading, cooking, and running.

Clearance Sagao
Co-Director of Upper School | Faculty of STEM

Sagao Clearance has 7 years of experience in instructing high school students in mathematics/ physics and teacher training to gain 21st century pedagogical skills. He worked as a mathematics/physics teacher in a local government school for three years where he also served as HOD Games and Sports; HOD Mathematics and Science; and as an interim deputy principal for one year and as the acting principal during this tenure. While at the government school he initiated a chess program to reinforce desired meta-skills and general behavior of the students.

He later joined Nova Academies currently Nova Pioneer Group of Schools in Kenya and South Africa which is a school of innovators and leaders as a resident mathematics teacher. After a year, he moved into the role of Associate Dean of Instruction and Learning and later as the Dean of Instruction and Learning. As the Dean of Instruction and Learning, his major role was to craft and facilitate professional development training for teachers. He also ensured students’ academic experiences were inquiry-based and learner-centered; monitored students’ academic progress and used data-driven instruction to support student’s academic success. As a dean, he managed and coached teachers through lesson observation and one-on-one feedback sessions. He Graduated the inaugural class of 2019 with a 76% transition to both local and international universities; the class was feted as the best in the sub-county which was a huge milestone since this was the inaugural class. He graduated the class of 2020 with a 78% transition to university.

Mr. Sagao founded a behavior management tool (Green Card) in addition to the Yellow Card that was designed to inculcate and reinforce desired behavior and academic discipline at Nova Pioneer. He also founded a Saturday academy that culminated into school-wide academic support for students through differentiated instruction. He has also co-facilitated Mastery Sessions to grow a strong talent tree of leaders and coaches amongst teachers. He also oversaw and managed Innovation Program and Life skills to shape students’ capability and Character.

Currently, he works with the Abaarso School as Co-Director of Upper School helping to oversee the management of all day-to-day academic programs in grades 9-12 and as a coach and mentor to faculty.

Mr. Sagao is a member and a founder of GFactored Academy that provides academic support and related Life Skill lessons in different faculties. His personal philosophy is to “infinitely question reality and answers provided” in the spirit of always being a seeker of new knowledge.

Will Boyles
Faculty of Humanities

Will graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in English literature; he obtained a US teaching license from the state of Hawaii in high school English language arts. With respect to work experience, Will began his teaching career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa, where he taught English in connection with health awareness. Afterward, he was an ESL instructor in China—in Beijing and Shanghai. Most recently, he taught at an international school in Mandalay, Myanmar. In his free time, Will enjoys soccer, chess, and music production.

Ibrahim Ahmed
Faculty of Humanities

Ibrahim is from Canada and graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Accounting and a Master of Accounting degree specializing in assurance and advisory services from Florida State University. in addition to his studies, Ibrahim was also a Division 1 student-athlete on the cross county and track and field teams for the Florida State Seminoles. Internationally Ibrahim represented Canada at the World Junior track and field championships and competed at the 2016 Canadian Olympic trials. Following graduate school studies, Ibrahim worked as an accountant for a big four firm in San Francisco, California. A native Somalilander, Ibrahim hopes to make an impact on the development of students at Abaarso.

Sally Ahmed Hachi
Faculty of STEM

Sally was born in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and lived there for some time before moving to Somaliland for high school. After graduating high school, she proceeded to go to China to study the language and get her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Although she’s been moving around between a few countries, she has been able to keep an open mind and adapt to the variety of cultures and lifestyles of the people she was surrounded by. She is very much an open book and likes to make friends wherever she is. She had always wanted to be a teacher when she grew up and now, thanks to Abaarso, that dream has come to fruition.

Abdilaahi Qarshe Mohamed
Faculty of STEM | House Parent

Abdilaahi graduated from the African Leadership University in Rwanda, Kigali, with top honors. Previously, he taught Computer Science and was Dean of Boys at Abaarso School of Science and Technology. At ALU, Abdilaahi led the ALU Alive Committee and ran five components of the University’s Student Government. In Rwanda, Abdilaahi interned with the Belgium Embassy. Abdilaahi is excited to return to Abaarso School and continue positively contributing to the lives of the brightest students in Somaliland.

Ridge Daka
Faculty of Humanities

Ridge, a Malawian Native, grew up in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. He undertook a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Social Science at The South African College of Applied Psychology, majoring in Counselling and Psychology. During his undergraduate, he served as the Class Representative for many of his modules and was the Public Relations Officer for the Student Body for a year. In his free time, he has participated in Game Jams, built models in Blender, and experimented with digital engines. He loves art, reading, and writing and is an avid literary collector.

Jahshana Olivierre
Faculty of Humanities

Jahshana Olivierre is a Brooklyn, NY native who is committed to creating learning environments that support healthy youth development. Jahshana graduated from New York University, where she designed a major focused on Cultural Arts, History, and Education. In 2019, she traveled to Senegal, West Africa to conduct research on cultural arts education initiatives and their role in community development. Prior to her undergraduate career, she worked to deliver social justice and leadership programming to middle and high schoolers across New York City. Jahshana is passionate about learning and enjoys reading, creative writing, photography, and dance. She looks forward to sharing her love of learning with the Abaarso community.

Stuart Meda
Faculty of Humanities

Stuart is an experienced educational practitioner in the teaching & learning process as well as administration. l believe in 21st-century education’s core skills which result in identifying and nurturing talent in individual students.